Research in the Department of Microbial Biotechnology focusses on microbes of environmental, industrial or clinical relevance. Our work includes several approaches based on molecular genetics, systems and synthetic biology, genomics, proteomics and metagenomics. The scientific objectives of the department include five complementary aspects of microbial biology:
- Environmental microbiology. We study the regulatory mechanisms that degrade organic pollutants by analysing global regulation networks that control the hierarchical assimilation of nutrients in complex environments. Understanding the overall regulation of bacterial metabolism will allow us to optimise bioremediation strategies and industrially important biotransformation processes. We use metagenomic approaches to evaluate the effect toxic compounds, including biocides and herbicides, on natural microbial communities.
- Microbial pathogens. We direct our efforts to host-pathogen interactions in infections caused by intracellular and opportunistic bacterial pathogens. In addition, we study basic processes of microbial physiology, such as cell division, that are relevant in infection and to define antimicrobial targets.
- Microbial resistance to antibiotics and the search for new antimicrobials. We work to understand the mechanisms of bacterial resistance to antibiotics and to analyse the complex responses elicited upon exposure of microbes to sub-lethal concentrations of antibiotics. In addition, we search for new targets as a way to develop new antimicrobials.
- Microbial responses to hostile environments. The purpose is to determine bacterial responses to stressful environments, including general stress responses and specific responses to agents that cause DNA damage. We study how bacterial viruses and yeasts replicate their DNA and how bacteria repair DNA damage and promote segregation to improve genome stability.
- Microbial engineering. The goal is to generate bacterial strains optimised to obtain products of interest (recombinant antibodies, hydrolytic enzymes), or to detect and degrade pollutants. We engineer bacterial strains that attach to specific surfaces such as antigen-expressing human cells, including tumour cells, which often express proteins abnormally on the plasma membrane.
Head of Department: José Luis Martínez
OUR RESEARCH GROUPS:
Genetic stability. Juan C. Alonso
Recombination-dependent DNA replication. Silvia Ayora
Stress and bacterial evolution. Jesús Blázquez
Bacterial engineering for biomedical applications. Luis Á. Fernández-Herrero
Laboratory of Intracellular Bacterial Pathogens. Francisco García-del Portillo
Molecular infection biology. Daniel López
Opportunistic pathogens. José Luis Martínez
Genetic control of cell cicle. Miguel Vicente